Opinion | You should know Lewis Hamilton

Sir+Lewis+Hamilton+celebrating+with+fans+after+his+victory+at+the+British+GP+on+July+10%2C+2016.+

Photo courtesy of Jen Ross/Flickr

Sir Lewis Hamilton celebrating with fans after his victory at the British GP on July 10, 2016.

By Storey Childs, Columnist

Sir Lewis Hamilton is one of the most successful Formula One drivers in the sport’s history. He is the face of Mercedes, the only Black driver to have raced in Formula One, and has gained international attention through his 14 years of racing. He continually breaks barriers, on the track and beyond. 

It is a distinct possibility that you have never watched a Formula One race nor heard of Lewis Hamilton. But you probably know these names: LeBron James, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps — all talented, high-class athletes in their own sports. 

In a world full of high-class athletes, Lewis Hamilton is one you should know. 

Out of the 20 drivers on the grid, four of them have been given the title of world champion. Many drivers go through their careers only having won a couple of dozen Grand Prix, never coming within reach of the international title. 

As of the 2021 season, Lewis Hamilton has won seven world championships, 95 Grand Prix and has podiumed 188 times. 

Established in 1950, Formula One is an international form of auto racing, including a diverse grid of 20 drivers from all over the world, all racing in an open-wheel, single-seat, multi-million dollar car.

Each race is called a Grand Prix, consisting of a closed circuit that, unlike NASCAR’s oval, is filled with turns, chicanes and changes in elevation. A season consists of 23 races hosted internationally in locations such as Japan, Abu-Dhabi, Monaco and Austin, Texas.

Hamilton’s race record is unparalleled. The statistics do not lie, and if nothing else, he will be memorialized for his skillful driving. He has consistently demonstrated that if you tune into a Formula One Grand Prix on a Sunday, you should pay attention to him. 

But statistics are not the only reason you should know who he is. Even more than his ability to maneuver a car, Hamilton embodies authenticity of character. 

Born in 1985 in the U.K., Hamilton came from humble beginnings. He started as a young go-karter when he was only 8 years old, eventually gaining individual funding and climbing his way through the system.

As he advanced, what became apparent was that he was there to stay. But Formula One is a high-stakes, fast-paced, emotionally intense environment. It necessitates a combination of strategy and skill — one that Lewis Hamilton has worked to acquire and master since his young start. 

The difficulty with Formula One is that it is never guaranteed. 

As Hamilton acquired funding, the pressure to win also increased. Yes, he is a seven-time world champion, but he is also human, and one who makes errors.   

As many times as he has crossed the finish line, he has crashed his car into the wall. And as many times as he has been able to stand on the podium spraying champagne into the crowd, he has watched others do the same. 

In the final race of the 2021 season, Hamilton found himself tied with his rival driver, Max Verstappen. It all came down to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the winner would take all. After having a steady race, he lost in the last lap.

The decision that made Lewis lose the last lap was very controversial, and the disappointment of losing would have broken any driver, prompting what would have been a justified show of anger. 

But Lewis got out of his car, shook the hand of Max Verstappen, and took his place as the second-best driver in the world. No show of anger, no show of unsportsmanlike behavior. 

Despite the triumphs and disappointments of winning and losing that define the career of a Formula One driver, Hamilton embodied authenticity by consistently showing, even as he had the biggest loss in his career, that whether a race is won or lost is secondary to how he conducts himself. 

What makes Lewis Lewis is his character, and I would suggest spending your Sunday tuning into a Formula One Grand Prix to see it for yourself.

 

Storey is a junior in LAS.

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